Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 comes into force.
What is the scope of these rules?
(1) Save as otherwise expressly provided by the Central Government by notification, these rules shall apply to:
(a) all goods and services bought or sold over digital or electronic network including digital products;
(b) all models of e-commerce, including marketplace and inventory models of e-commerce;
(c) all e-commerce retail, including multi-channel single brand retailers and single brand retailers in single or multiple formats; and
(d) all forms of unfair trade practices across all models of e-commerce: Provided that these rules shall not apply to any activity of a natural person carried out in a personal capacity not being part of any professional or commercial activity undertaken on a regular or systematic basis.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-rule (1), these rules shall apply to a e-commerce entity which is not established in India, but systematically offers goods or services to consumers in India
Duties of e-commerce entities?
An e-commerce entity shall:
(a) be a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 or the Companies Act, 2013 or a foreign company covered under clause (42) of section 2 of the Companies Act, 2013 or an office, branch or agency outside India owned or controlled by a person resident in India as provided in sub-clause (iii) of clause (v) of section 2 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999; and
appoint a nodal person of contact or an alternate senior designated functionary who is resident in India, to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act or the rules made thereunder.
Every e-commerce entity shall provide the following information in a clear and accessible manner on its platform, displayed prominently to its users, namely:–
- legal name of the e-commerce entity;
- principal geographic address of its headquarters and all branches;
- name and details of its website; and
- contact details like e-mail address, fax, landline and mobile numbers of customer care as well as of grievance officer.
No e-commerce entity shall adopt any unfair trade practice, whether in the course of business on its platform or otherwise.
Every e-commerce entity shall establish an adequate grievance redressal mechanism having regard to the number of grievances ordinarily received by such entity from India, and shall appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal, and shall display the name, contact details, and designation of such officer on its platform.
Every e-commerce entity shall ensure that the grievance officer referred to in sub-rule (4) acknowledges the receipt of any consumer complaint within forty-eight hours and redresses the complaint within one month from the date of receipt of the complaint.
Where an e-commerce entity offers imported goods or services for sale, it shall mention the name and details of any importer from whom it has purchased such goods or services, or who may be a seller on its platform.
Every e-commerce entity shall endeavour on a best effort basis to become a partner in the convergence process of the National Consumer Helpline of the Central Government.
No e-commerce entity shall impose cancellation charges on consumers cancelling after confirming purchase unless similar charges are also borne by the e- commerce entity, if they cancel the purchase order unilaterally for any reason.
Every e-commerce entity shall only record the consent of a consumer for the purchase of any good or service offered on its platform where such consent is expressed through an explicit and affirmative action, and no such entity shall record such consent automatically, including in the form of pre-ticked checkboxes.
Every e-commerce entity shall effect all payments towards accepted refund requests of the consumers as prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India or any other competent authority under any law for the time being in force, within a reasonable period of time, or as prescribed under applicable laws.
No e-commerce entity shall–
(a) manipulate the price of the goods or services offered on its platform in such a manner as to gain unreasonable profit by imposing on consumers any unjustified price having regard to the prevailing market conditions, the essential nature of the good or service, any extraordinary circumstances under which the good or service is offered, and any other relevant consideration in determining whether the price charged is justified;
(b) discriminate between consumers of the same class or make any arbitrary classification of consumers affecting their rights under the Act
What all are the liabilities of marketplace e-commerce entities?
E-commerce entity which seeks to avail the exemption from liability under sub-section (1) of section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 shall comply with sub-sections (2) and (3) of that section, including the provisions of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011.
E-commerce entity shall require sellers through an undertaking to ensure that descriptions, images, and other content pertaining to goods or services on their platform is accurate and corresponds directly with the appearance, nature, quality, purpose and other general features of such good or service.
Every marketplace e-commerce entity shall include in its terms and conditions generally governing its relationship with sellers on its platform, a description of any differentiated treatment which it gives or might give between goods or services or sellers of the same category.
Every marketplace e-commerce entity shall take reasonable efforts to maintain a record of relevant information allowing for the identification of all sellers who have repeatedly offered goods or services that have previously been removed or access to which has previously been disabled under the Copyright Act, 1957 , the Trade Marks Act, 1999 or the Information Technology Act, 2000:
Provided that no such e-commerce entity shall be required to terminate the access of such seller to its platform pursuant to this sub-rule but may do so on a voluntary basis.
The new rules alongwith the above, also contain the duties laid down for the sellers on marketplace e-commerce & Duties and liabilities of inventory e-commerce entities.
To read the detailed notification, please click on the link below:
Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Distribution
[Notification dt. 23-07-2020]
[Image Credits: Forbes.com]